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Dodgers' auction is a private affair, exasperation and all

January 28, 2012 |  2:10 pm


So they’re already whittling down the list of potential new owner of the Dodgers, and perhaps you’d like an explanation.

Sorry, wrong auction. Wrong process. Wrong men.

It’s a frustrating time for Dodgers fans, eager to know what is going on and who the next owner of their team will be. We know the dates the sale is operating under and a few general guidelines, but really that’s about it.

How many groups submitted bids? Was it 10, 12, up to 20? We’ve seen reports on all. And who were they exactly? We have names of most, or at least we think we do, but that doesn’t mean all.

On Friday the global investment firm conducting this auction for Frank McCourt, Blackstone Advisory Partners, began notifying groups whether they had advanced through the first round.

That in itself was surprising, since even the bidders were uncertain when Blackstone would make the first-round cuts. It’s also uncertain exactly how much influence McCourt had on the preliminary cuts and whether it was based strictly on the significance of their initial bids. The bids came in only on Monday.

The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported at least eight groups have advanced, though not all are known. Among those not moving forward were Mark Cuban, Dennis Gilbert and Steve Garvey/Orel Hershiser.

What prevented them from getting a ticket into the next round? We don’t know that either, though the assumption is their opening bid was too low or they were simply deemed not having the necessary financial resources. Good thing for McCourt he was never vetted like this.

Of course, as much as it’s said the Dodgers belong to the people of Los Angeles and are a civic treasure, ultimately they are a privately held company. The sale has every right to proceed behind closed doors. McCourt doesn’t have to say anything until he announces the winner by April 1.

McCourt, who purchased the team for $421 million in 2004, apparently wants at least $1.5 billion. So even if he is about a billion in debt, he’s still going to come out of this having made a ridiculous profit. Shaikin wrote the final bidding could even be in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

Blackstone apparently has cut a surprising number of initial bidders, leaving fewer for Major League Baseball to approve before turning over the final list to McCourt to select from.

How long will MLB take to approve those advanced by Blackstone? We don’t know that, either. We don’t know a lot of mechanisms involved here. It’s a tad maddening, but the only explanation required is the final one.


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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey at Dodger Stadium last spring to watch his son Ryan play in a high school championship game. Credit: Christina House / For The Times